Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Wow, it certainly is really interesting working on such an "alive" memorial: we're archiving something that is still in the process of being created, and therefore is in constant flux. Even a memorial which I had worked on only a month ago has had a complete overhaul; it must be because the victim's loved ones had had their meeting with the VOICES offices in the interim. It was actually really fantastic to see: what caught my eye first was the changed profile picture (the new one is much better!), but what truly made me feel a warm glow was how much more information had been added about this person: more tributes, and so much more information in general. It's so nice to see the effect of having one's loved ones get to share their memories. I wish I could see such changes happen for all the victims, but alas, that would be difficult to track. I feel lucky enough to have been able to notice this one. What a truly interesting project this is turning out to be, on so many levels.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

quick update/response

Because I am in the Dunkin Donuts at the Student Center, and therefore can't use my laptop (don't ask), I am using my phone. Because I am using my phone, I can't seem to comment on blogs. So I am going to do that here, because I just read Kyle's post & I liked her point that it's okay that it's the last class, because we are setting up these great foundations for the next 599 class - I love that!

Also, I forgot that today was picture day...and I've been up since 5:30...eep. Haha.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

coming close to the end

I cannot believe that tomorrow is our last class. It feels like we just got started on this project, and I'm loath to leave it. Which probably means I will be doing my best to continue volunteering with VOICES as I move into my next semester of school.

But, before moving forward, let me back up and reflect on the class which we had last Saturday. I felt it was VERY productive. Not only in the little things - I was happy to have reorganized the Person type entry page so that it seemed to more intuitively relate to the data we were entering - but also the discussions we engaged in were SO satisfying. And this, despite that many of them felt unresolved, to an extent! But just to know that everyone was struggling with the same issues when it came to assigning certain information into tags, for instance. It was good to consolidate the Job Title & Profession fields, even though that wasn't necessarily the optimal option.

I'm also excited to see how the other work is coming along: Kyle's layout, Molly's lightbox, and Frank's wiki work, to name a few things. Everyone has worked so hard on this project. I'm also looking forward to the future when we truly adopt tagging, to see where that will take the entries and the searching capabilities. And most of all, I am anxious to see if & when people ultimately comment on the content, adding yet another layer (and more brains) to the mix, so that even more ways to use and synthesize the content can be explored.

This weekend, I hope that we can finally set up a cohesive exhibit, in order to see everything fall into place. Even if we only get one or two done, just to see where this project is headed will be helpful - and inspirational, I can imagine. Once I see all of the elements of our work coming together, I believe I will become even more eager to get involved in the project for the long-term. I feel so invested already. I can't imagine leaving it all tomorrow, and I don't plan to.

Friday, November 12, 2010

(late in coming) reflections on last class

I got sick almost immediately following our last class (it had nothing to do with the class itself, I swear!), so my apologies that I'm going to try to comment on it now, almost a week later.

What I remember most about it was our very interesting discussion/mini-debate on what ought to go into the tags of any item we are archiving. People made some excellent points for and against certain things. I thought it was a good idea to avoid putting anything in which one could already find in the metadata. What I'd especially like to see in there would be tags we talked about relating to someone's affiliation outside of their work: schools they attended, groups they were involved in, etc. This would help give a more comprehensive picture of each individual and allow for someone to look them up via other routes than the typical ones which are currently recorded by the 9/11 Living Memorial (as comprehensive as it is).

While looking for some other instances where issue this might have been discussed, I stumbled across this very interesting site. Also, does anyone have access to Wiley articles? Because this one looks particularly interesting/appropriate.

I also REALLY enjoyed digging into the database files, more than I thought I would; I'm looking forward to doing a bit more of that. It even made me consider wanting to look for work which might bridge my training between computer & library science: I am thinking perhaps I can find something in consulting which would allow me to use my database knowledge and combine it with the need in libraries and archiving for technical people who have some actual knowledge of libraries. Exciting!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

some frustrations with In Memoriam pages

I am writing this post just before I go to bed, so please excuse me - I'm tired and my brain might be a little addled. Add to that the high emotion in working on this project (I've had tears streaming down my face several times tonight, while reading victims' pages), and I might not be 100% in the right state of mind. But I have some confusions on how to work with Omeka metadata and the VOS11 pages.

  • First, I am uncertain how far to go into the person's life: do I need to read the entirety of the memorial biography? I have been anyway (hence the crying), but I am finding things in there which are not necessarily listed on the front page of the biography. Are we supposed to extrapolate data, or only use what's right there on the main page? For example, I have found further information on where the victim was located at the time of the attack, birthdays, memorial sites, etc., but have not included them for lack of certainty, and for consistency's sake. I would like that we all agree on the same approach so that all pages are as similar as possible, but...what is the best way to go?

  • I also am not certain what is necessary for the "Tributes" tag. Some people have no Tributes listed in their sidebars; others have a dozen or more. They go fairly in-depth, and include photographs, PDFs, and other formats. Are we simply linking to the various Tribute pages, or are we doing something more with them?

  • Another less in-depth question: how do we know if the family has chosen another photograph for the memorial, other than the Portraits of Grief one? Are we to simply use the one which is on the front page of the VOICES In Memoriam page?

I fear I'm asking questions which are answered elsewhere; my apologies if so. I would love to keep track of all of these things consistently somewhere - the wiki? I also should add that this is something which I will need to work on: I am a stickler for consistency, completeness, accuracy, grammar (e.g., I'll check to make sure I spelled my person's name correctly several times). I have to reconcile myself with the fact that nothing in archiving allows for this. It doesn't matter what kind of collection you are preserving; the simple nature of the amount of information being so vast means that there cannot help but be inconsistencies. But, my slightly-OCD nature makes this very hard for me to come to terms with. Additionally, because this project is so important and so close to peoples' hearts, I want to make absolutely certain that I am doing for victims' loved ones all I possible can to make the memorials as correct yet full as possible. These aren't materials which archeologists dug up; they are people who live on in the hearts of many who are still alive today. While both types of work require deep respect, I feel there is a different level to the VOS11 work, a deeper meaningfulness.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

good example sites powered by Omeka

After perusing some of the many Omeka-powered sites, here are my thoughts.

Oh my goodness, I am in love with this site: Treasures of the NYPL! The simple-yet-full front page is great; it shows some of the collection images (one of them links to A.A. Milne's original stuffed animals, which were the inspiration for Winnie the Pooh!) and lists the main categories of collections, all while taking up very little screen real estate. The user can then choose to explore the rest of the site as he pleases. (I also like the breakdown and simplicity of this site: Making the History of 1989: The Fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.)

The Short History of Seed and Nursery Catalogues in Europe & the U.S. also stuck with me, mostly again for its great homepage. However, I also like how the site is organized, in a format which looks almost like a term paper and displays items chronologically. I'm not certain we could necessarily do a chronological series for our own project, but perhaps we could break down the victim memorials (I believe Molly has already mentioned this, as well) by tower location, birthplace, age, or something else entirely. We could also randomly rotate photographs on the front page so that all of the people are represented equally.

And I like this final page, Bibliothèque Numérique - Université Rennes 2, not only because it's French (yes, I'm partial to that language), but because it makes use of a lot of great Omeka plugins. It's neat to see tagging being used on this site, as well as geolocation. Again, I'm not sure if we could use something like geolocation, but it's good to see as much as we can of what is out there, and then we can decide as a class what is important to include.

I have to admit (and you've likely noticed) that I'm a sucker for an aesthetically pleasing site. Of course, the content is extremely important, but I don't think many are going to want to look at, much less navigate, a site which isn't clean and user-friendly - no matter how full of information it is. Therefore, I tend to lean towards an emphasis on the visuals of the website, particularly those of the front page (so we can draw people further into the site!).

reflections on week 1

The first class met last Saturday, and it was really quite a day. It was great to meet my classmates and hear about their past experiences, and why they were so interested in working in digital archiving. We come from very diverse backgrounds, and I feel like that will help us come at any difficulties from a variety of approaches, which I always appreciate.

Getting started with the customized Dublin Core elements was...well, I felt that it was at times difficult and a bit frustrating. We began our work with it by examining items that had already been archived by Omeka software and subsequently presented in digital archives all over the internet. From the start, we could see how spotty a lot of coverage of certain types of information was, which I originally took to be an issue with those who had taken on the task of archiving the materials. However, immediately we stumbled over confusion in distinguishing the difference between "Contributor" and "Owner" of the content, which never ended up feeling fully resolved, although we spoke quite lengthily on the topic. Additionally, a lot of the materials we looked at seemed to be missing a lot of information, which always frustrates me, because I want everything.

However, as we began our own work, uploading some digital artifacts from September 11 victims (which was quite emotionally draining work, to be honest - I hadn't realized how taxing it might be), I found the same frustrations with the materials which my partner and I were charged with uploading and tagging. We had a difficult time determining, for instance, what Format and what Type to give resources (or what the exact difference we between the two lables); this became a class-wide discussion. We also had to skip some fields entirely, which as a perfectionist I hated to do, but it was impossible to tell, for instance, what year some of the pictures had been taken. We did the best we could, but I now have a much better understanding for why archive documentation coverage must be so spotty at times. You can't just make things up; you can work only with what you are given.

One other thing I had difficulty with was deciding which of the hundreds of photographs and other materials to select for upload to the site. Given the time and opportunity, I'd have wanted to post them all! Who is to know which photograph or souvenir is the one the family finds most important to the memory of their loved one? Who is to say there even should be one that is more important than the others?? All of the materials have deep meaning to those left behind, and of course you want to memorialize every last scrap for the benefit of those who have lost someone - and in respect for the memory of those they have lost.

All in all, from my first day's worth of experience with it, I can confidently say that archiving is a frustrating experience and precarious balancing act. However, I do feel it can also be rewarding, especially when we can help others honor the memories of those dear to them. This project, I feel, will be a combination of frustration and heartache tempered with enthusiasm and patience and perseverance, knowing the good that is ultimately being done. I feel that everyone in this class has a sincere respect for the ideal of archiving, and for the project which we are working on.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

coming up

Starting this Saturday, October 16, I will be taking part in a LIS class offered by SCSU which will involve creating digital archives related to 9/11. We will be using an open-source program called Omeka, which was developed at GMU in 2008 for the purposes of archiving, with a focus on display. This blog will be solely dedicated to that project for the duration of the class.

Because I'm a geek, I was looking into the software we'll be using. It is, according to Wikipedia, written in PHP with a MySQL back end, and it uses an unqualified Dublin Core metadata standard. I looked further into Dublin Core, and saw that
Metadata records based on Dublin Core are intended to be used for cross-domain information resource description and have become standard in the fields of library science and computer science.

Computer science and library science? How perfect is that for me?!? I am really looking forward to this project - I hope it's as interesting as it sounds.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

okay, honestly, guys.

Sorry, I'm a nitpicky librarian! What can I say?

I am truly enjoying Connecting Young Adults and Libraries (Gorman & Suellentrop, 2009); it's one of the better and more engaging textbooks that I've ever read. I actually love most of the advice that's being given, and I'll let slip "prublish" and spelling the band's name "Stained" instead of "Staind." But I'm just getting frustrated, now! Because before, I wasn't noticing any problems. But you listed the 2003 winner of the Michael L. Printz award as Aiden Chambers' Postcards from the Edge. Only Aiden Chambers never wrote a book by that title, and there's nobody actually named Aiden Chambers; it's Aidan. And he DID write a book called Postcards from No Man's Land. Postcards from the Edge was written by Carrie Fisher (yes, that Carrie Fisher) in 1987.

Now, I'm sure it was just a case of some low-level administrative assistant being asked to retype the list for inclusion in the book or something. But, honestly, there are lists all over the place of the Printz award winners that you could've just copied & pasted. It bothers me - it makes me feel like I'm not important, as the audience for a book - when nobody bothers to edit. I hate to be so upset, but I feel like someone's not doing their job. Grr.

do these people read?!?

I have to say, I'm shocked by how many grammatical errors I am finding in my library textbooks! I can't say I'm 100% error-free in my own writing, but I do strive to be - and I reread everything I write at least once or twice. I feel like nobody even looks at the text once it's on the page, in these texts that are required reading for my classes. It's absurd. The one I just came across was "VOYA is also the only one of the big four to prublish reviews written by teens." Prublish!! Augh. It kills me because any editor would have noticed that, easily. I'd hope, anyway....

I have noticed everything from missing punctuation, to spelling errors, to missing parts of words! Yes, I turned a page and saw "suasion" starting off the text of the following one; I know that what they meant was "persuasion." I just couldn't believe that an error that big wasn't noticed by anyone before the text went to print.

Okay, my rant is over (for now). I gotta get back to my readings...my frustrating readings...sigh.

(I'm sure, as some sort of karmic justice, there is at least one error in my above writing. Ah, well - what can you do, right? Irony! Haha.)

Friday, September 10, 2010

This blog is going to be dedicated to the interesting moments of my hopeful career in librarianship; I began my graduate LIS studies at Southern Connecticut State University in the fall of 2009. One year later, I decided to begin keeping better track of my experiences.

I also will most likely add in some interesting tidbits as I learn them, because that is, after all, what I love about librarianship: the ability to continue learning, in all different fields, for the rest of my life!

For instance: I first read the phrase "weather eye" in my textbook for electronic resource management today. I had never heard the phrase before! At first I thought it was a typo. But - of course! - that motivated me to look it up.

More soon.

Monday, August 30, 2010